What an amazing day 8th May 1945 was, the war that had lasted six long terrible years was finally over. I was in Belfast when Winston Churchill made his famous victory speech, and I remember the streets were full of happy cheering people. I was only six years old and didn’t completely understand the significance of the moment. For me it was more like a party, the streets were decorated with flags, people hugging,kissing and dancing. I was told I could leave my gas mask at home, I didn’t need to carry it any more. That evening there was no blackout, no sirens, no air raid wardens, the street gas lamps glowed all along the roads and streets. Such an amazing sight for this young boy, I had never before seen such a beautiful thing, a whole row of blinking lights all the way down my street. Some streets had gathered wood, old crates and broken furniture into a great pile. As the sun set they set alight the huge bonfires and once again the streets were full of people singing and dancing. I was allowed to stay up very late watching all the festivities, but once the happy crowd began staggering a little. I was ushered off to bed. In early June my sister Lily announced we were going back to England, I was horrified because in my young mind England was the place were the war was bad. I vividly remembered the endless cold and scary nights spent in air raid shelters. I remembered the bomb damaged buildings and roads, the crowded buses and trains. I mostly remembered the dreadful food shortages, cod liver oil, spam and saccharine sweetener in my tea. I was unable to grasp that the war was over in England also. Looking back it is not too difficult to understand this, I had mostly grown up in a world at war,I was barely one year old when the war began. I had never experienced anything else. My confusion was quite normal and probably shared by thousands of other children in my age group. Thinking back to those terrible times over 70 years ago, it is amazing that I survived without a scratch. Well, I did injury a finger during a V1 attack, but I’ll leave that story for another time. We did have some close calls, we were caught outside during in a raid. A bomb landed only a few yards from us, but it didn’t explode. The flat we rented in London was hit by one of the first V1 bombs and totally destroyed the house and all our belongings. By the Grace of God we were not at home at the time. Indeed fearful times that are now only a memory. May we never again go to war.
God Bless and keep reading.